Saturday, April 17, 2010

Streetwise (1984)

Antsy ennui drives every suburban teen itch to run away. Pent-up in your bedroom, a montage of rebellious liberation plays out in your mind's eye like a Bruce Springsteen song. You can picture the magic of summer nights spent roaming downtown; leaning on parking meters, a little drunk on Bud, running through the back alleys with your gang or joy-riding down the boulevard. You can feel the cardiac fanfare when you finally talk to that beauty, the street Venus, who looks so good that your vision turns tunnel and you see only her. Martin Bell captures the exhilaration and carefree abandon of this slipping through Seattle's system; the roller-blading around abandoned hotels, the high-diving off of bridges and the jumping on freight trains. But Streetwise drops on you like a cartoon anvil. For these kids, surviving on the streets is eating out of dumpsters, selling their blood and blowing old men. Its unwanted babies and drug addictions at 14. It's pimping their street Venus'. A beautifully shot documentary with some unforgettable imagery and poetic voiceovers so melancholy that they wouldn't be out of place in a Terence Malick film, this is My Own Private Idaho for real.

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